I don’t think it’ll come as a shock to anyone by now that I love to start my mornings with something active and invigorating, but do you know why outdoor swimming has to be up there with one of the best of the bunch?
I was raised by a mother who is an absolute outdoor swimming nut. I mean literally she swims all year round, they break the ice for her, she only wears little scuba booties and gloves, she’s more than hardcore.
I am not quite that intrepid, in actual fact I think I was hardier as a youngster, but I still aim to get myself into some cool water as much as I can because far beyond just exercise, and the incredible endorphin rush you get from that icy blue, we now know there are significant health altering benefits to getting those swimmers on and diving in, see below for my super speedy summary 😀
Yes I know I said it was much more than exercise and this is 100% the case but swimming in general is a fabulous form of activity to include due to the weightlessness you experience. This allows greater extension of the muscles, improves flexibility and is impact-less on the joints, so if you have any form of injury, are a keen sports person, or generally just think your posture could do with some improvement, then getting into the water could be just the remedy you’ve been looking for!
Aim to swim a long, graceful stroke, reaching forward with your arms as if to touch the top of a unicorn’s horn protruding from your forehead. Pull back against the weight of the water engaging your abdominal muscles and repeat. This will open the shoulders and hip flexors, tone the arms and encourage good core stability. And just as an extra bonus by swimming outside your body has to work twice as hard to help keep you warm which increases the calories you burn!
When you first submerge yourself into those cool waters it acts as a form of shock for the body which races around checking that everything’s OK and one of the things it automatically does as a result is to produce more white blood cells.
White blood cells are your immune security patrol force so having more of these babies primed and ready means you reduce your susceptibility to infection, improve wound healing times and generally keep yourself as healthy as a horse (or your preferred animal counterpart).
Similar to the response of your immune system your heart and circulatory system responds to the shock of the cooler water by pumping more blood around the body. This increases the strength of the heart muscle, provides the internal organs with more oxygen, speeds up the removal of waste from the body tissues, and improves the effectiveness of this system overall.
Oh and this is also linked to glowing skin and a slowing of the ageing process if you weren’t already coming round to the idea….
ADULT FUN & FERTILITY
Cold water swimming increases sex hormones, testosterone for men and oestrogen for women, which basically translates into an increased libido and better sex life!
There is also a link to increased fertility in men and the endorphins released during your dip are the same as those that are released during sex which is why we can find that rush from outdoor swimming increasingly addictive 😉
STRESS RELIEF & MENTAL HEALTH
This has to probably be my favourite of all the benefits as outdoor swimming is strongly correlated to improved feelings of well being and for those with depression can almost be that lightbulb moment that helps them to break the cycle of fluctuating moods.
Joining an outdoor swimming club to help conquer any fear of the water and become increasingly social can be of significant benefit to many people, and the calming nature of the activity helps with feeling of tension, anxiety and nervousness.
For those not quite ready to take the plunge some benefits can be gained through a good old dunk in a cold shower, so if you’re steeling yourself up to take the plunge give that a go, but don’t wait to try it too long to try it or you’ll end up kicking yourself on what you’ve been missing out on!
For more information or if you want to discuss any of the health issues mentioned please feel free to contact me directly.
With healthy wishes,